Photographed during an aerial survey deep in the Amazon Basin, two large, newly built huts help confirm the existence of a previously unknown "uncontacted" tribe, Brazilian authorities announced last week.
The April flyover followed extensive research, including expeditions on the ground and study of satellite images. "We rarely find a tribe like this by chance," said expedition leader Fabricio Amorim, who coordinates the Ethno-Environmental Protection Front of FUNAI, Brazil's Indian-affairs agency.
"There is a lot of work involved. It's like putting a puzzle together."
Although no tribe members were photographed, there's plenty of evidence they're in residence and active.
The condition of the shelters and the degree of fading of the palm-thatch roofs indicate the structures were built around a year ago, he said. Also, the presence of corn fields in the area suggests the site may have been cleared recently. Corn tends to be one of the first crops planted after clearing, Amorim explained.
But why were no people spotted? "They could have been scared by the airplane and hid themselves in the jungle, or maybe were out hunting."
(Also see "New Pictures Show 'Uncontacted' Tribe 'Well and Strong.'")